Archive for the ‘ Grace Gems ’ Category

O The Wonders Couched In Electing Love

by James Smith, “God’s Special Treasure

“For you are a holy people, who belong to the Lord your God. Of all the people on earth–the Lord your God has chosen you to be His own special treasure!” Deuteronomy 7:6 

God highly prizes His people. Yes, it is impossible to say how highly He prizes them. Those are wondrous words, “For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His own special treasure!” Psalm 135:4

Did the shepherd prize his flock? God calls His people, “His flock, His beautiful flock.”

Does the miser prize his wealth? God says of His people, “You shall be a special treasure unto Me above all people; for all the earth is mine.”

Does the prince prize his jewels? God says of His people, “They shall be Mine, in that day when I make up My jewels!” 

Does the bridegroom prize his beloved and dearly purchased bride? It is written, “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride–so shall your God rejoice over you!”

Does the reigning monarch prize his crown? God has said, “You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.”

What wondrous love, such expressions as these represent! How precious must the Lord’s people be to Him! Truly they are His special treasure!

God CHOSE them to be special unto Himself. He chose them out from among others. He chose them in preference to others.

He chose them out from others, on purpose that they may be a special people unto Himself. And in so doing, He acted FREELY. It was not on account of anything He saw in them, or on account of anything He expected from them; but in the exercise of His most free and holy sovereignty–He chose them to participate in the glory of His Son!

In choosing them, He acted also DELIBERATELY. It was no hasty choice. His thoughts had been eternally filled with them. His heart had been eternally set upon them. Therefore He chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world!

In choosing them, He acted WISELY–as He really desired to have them. For each one of them is ready to confess that if God had not chosen them–that they would never have chosen Him! The nature regulates the choice; and as our nature is carnal and impure–we would never have chosen God, who is spiritual and holy.

His choice was just an early expression of His LOVE. The love which chose them–would do anything for them, and give anything to them! Therefore God spared not His own Son–but delivered Him up for them all; and in so doing, gave them the assurance that He will also freely give them all things in Christ.

O the wonders couched in electing love!

This act of choosing such creatures as we are, to be a special people unto Himself, displays . . .
such grace,
such condescension,
such infinite wisdom and love!

God’s election says, “The Lord loves you!” Loves us! Yes, and with a love that is eternal, immutable, sovereign, infinite, and free! All the love of God is lavished upon us as His special people in Christ. Oh, those wondrous words of Jesus, “You have loved them–even as You have loved Me!” John 17:23

12 Time Wasting Thieves

by Richard Baxter

“Redeeming the time.” Colossians 4:5

“That you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way.” Colossians 1:10

Thief 1. One of the greatest time-wasting sins, consists of idleness or sloth.

Thief 2. The next thief or time-waster, is excess of sleep.

Thief 3. Another time-waster, is an inordinate adorning of the body.

Thief 4. Another time-wasting thief, is unnecessary pomp and extravagance in household furniture and domestic entertainments.

Thief 5. Another time-wasting sin, is needless feastingsgluttony, and drinking.

Thief 6. Another time-waster, is idle talk.

Thief 7. Another thief which would steal your time, is vain and sinful company.

Thief 8. Another notorious time-wasting thief, is needless, inordinate sports and games–which are masked with the deceitful title of recreations.

Thief 9. Another time-wasting thief, is excess of worldly cares and business.

Thief 10. Another time-waster, is vain, ungoverned and sinful thoughts.

Thief 11. Another dangerous time-wasting sin, is the reading of worthless books, plays, romances, and novels. And alsounprofitable studies, undertaken but for pride and vain-glory, or the pleasing of a carnal or curious mind.

Thief 12. But the master-thief that robs men of their time, is an unsanctified, ungodly heart; for this loses time, whatever men are doing–because they never intend to do anything for the glory of God.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do–do it all for the glory of God!” 1 Corinthians 10:31

Paid Loafers and Social Parasites

Below is a quote concerning how a gospel preacher should spend his time.  He is to devote himself to the full labor of study, prayer, and preaching.  I find myself agreeing with the quote, but stopping to give pause to this one sentence:

If we devote ourselves to this labor, there will be little time or energy for other things.

Now, it is true, lazy preachers that milk the pulpit for monetary gain, and neglect their duty of being a workman for God are in err.  But my question is how far is this to go?  The quote seems to imply that a gospel preacher is to have no to very, very little recreation time.  A work ethic of this nature would seem to inevitably lead a gospel preacher down the road to a ruined family, and a burned out ministry.

What do you think (especially my minister friends)?  Is an 8 to 5 mindset right, studying with a purpose during these hours so you can have family time, recreation time, etc. the right path?  Or should you be devoting yourselves to this labor so that “there will be little time or energy for other things?

I would also like to hear how you have struck the balance and weighed the issue as well (I have an idea in my head on what the right path should be, but I would like to hear your input nonetheless).

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

It is easy for preachers to become paid loafers and social parasites, wasting their days in pleasure, recreation, and bumming around with open palms and an expectant look. Sadly, the religious hucksters and hirelings of the world have earned their reputation. Let no gospel preacher do so!

The pastor has no boss within sight. He is not required to keep regular office hours. And no one checks up on him to be sure he is working. That is as it should be. Yet, the very fact that a church treats her pastor as she should, makes it possible for the pastor to abuse his office, neglect his work, give himself to idleness, or to providing luxuries for himself and his family; when he should give himself relentlessly to study, and prayer, and preaching. If we devote ourselves to this labor, there will be little time or energy for other things.

What Is It To Be A Christian (Part 3)

What is it to be a Christian?

3. To be a Christian–is to be a follower or imitator of Christ.

“He left us an example–that we should follow His steps!” 1 Peter 2:21

Christ is the model for every Christian.

Paul tells us that believers will be conformed to His image, Romans 8:29; and that the same mind must be in us–which was also in Christ Jesus. Phil. 2:5.

Christ’s heart glowed with love to His Father! He delighted in universal obedience to Him; it was His food and drink to do the Father’s will, even in the most painful and self-denying instances! He abounded in devotion, in prayer, meditation and every pious duty.

He was also full of every grace and virtue towards mankind! He was meek and humble, kind and benevolent, just and charitable, merciful and compassionate towards all.
Beneficence to the souls and bodies of men was the business of His life; for He went about doing good. Acts 10:38.

In regard to Himself–He was patient and resigned–and yet undaunted and brave under sufferings. He had all His appetites and passions under proper government. He was heavenly-minded; above this world in heart–while He dwelt in it.

This is an imperfect sketch of His amiable character; and in these things every one who deserves to be called after His name, does in some measure resemble and imitate Him. This is not only his earnest endeavor–but what he actually attains, though in a much inferior degree; and his imperfections are the grief of his heart.

This resemblance and imitation of Christ is essential to the very being of a Christian, and without it, all profession is a vain pretense!

Does your Christianity, my friends, stand this test? May one know that you belong to Christ–by your living like Him, and manifesting the same temper and spirit?

Alas! would not some of you with more propriety be called:
Epicureans–from Epicurus, the sensual atheistic philosopher; or 
Mammonites–
from Mammon, the imaginary god of riches; or 
Bacchanalians–
from Bacchus, the god of wine; rather than 
Christians
–from Christ, the most perfect pattern of living holiness and virtue that was ever exhibited in the world!

If you claim the name of Christians–then where is . . .
that ardent devotion,
that affectionate love to God,
that zeal for His glory,
that alacrity in His service,
that resignation to His will,
that generous benevolence to mankind,
that zeal to promote their best interests,
that meekness and forbearance under ill usage,
that unwearied activity in doing good to all,
that self-denial and heavenly-mindedness
which shown so conspicuous in Christ, whose holy name you bear?

Alas! while you are destitute of those graces–and yet wear his name–you only mock it, and turn it into a reproach both to Him and yourselves!

Whoever claims to live in Him–must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:6

What Is It To Be A Christian (Part 2)

What is it to be a Christian?

2. To be a Christian–is to deny yourselves and take up the cross and follow Christ. These are the terms of discipleship fixed by Christ Himself:  “He said to them all: If any man will come after Me–let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me!” Luke 9:23

To deny ourselves, is to abstain from the pleasures of sin, to moderate our sensual appetites, to deny our own interest for the sake of Christ. In short, it is to sacrifice everything inconsistent with our duty to Him, when these come in competition.

To take up our cross, is to bear sufferings, to encounter difficulties, and break through them all–in imitation of Jesus Christ, and for His sake.

To follow Christ, is to trace His steps, and imitate His example, whatever it costs us.

This is the essential character of every true Christian.

What then shall we think of those crowds among us, who retain the Christian name–and yet will not deny themselves of their sensual pleasures, nor part with their temporal interest, for the sake of Christ? Who are so far from being willing to lay down their lives, that they cannot stand the force of a laugh or a sneer for the cause of Christ–but immediately stumble and fall away?

Are they Christians–whom the commands of Christ cannot restrain from what their depraved hearts desire? No! A Christian, without self-denial, mortification, and a supreme love to Jesus Christ–is as great a contradiction as . . .
fire without heat,
a sun without light,
a hero without courage,
or a friend without love!

Does not this strip some of you of the Christian name, and prove that you have no right at all to it?

What Is It To Be A Christian (Part 1)

My next couple of posts will be a three part post that breaks down some key markers of a true Christian.  These three markers come from a sermon preached by Samuel Davies entitled The Sacred Import of the Christian Name.  The three point outline looks like this:
1.  To be a Christian–is to depart from iniquity.
2.  To be a Christian–is to deny yourselves and take up the cross and follow Christ.
3.  To be a Christian–is to be a
follower or imitator of Christ.

What is it to be a Christian?

1. To be a Christian–is to depart from iniquity. To this, the name obliges us; and without this we have no right to the name. “Let every one who names the name of Christ–depart from iniquity!” 2 Timothy 2:19. That is, let him depart from iniquity–or not even dare to take that sacred name!

Christ was perfectly free from sin–He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” His followers also shall be perfectly free from sin–in a little time! Before long, they will enter into the pure regions of perfect holiness, and will drop all their sins, along with their mortal bodies–into the grave!

But this, alas! is not their character in the present state–but the remains of sin still cleave to them! Yet even in the present state, they are laboring after perfection in holiness. Nothing can satisfy them–until they are fully conformed to the image of God’s dear Son!

They are hourly conflicting with every temptation, and vigorously resisting every iniquity in its most alluring forms. And, though sin is perpetually struggling for the mastery, and sometimes, in an inadvertent hour, gets an advantage over them–yet, they are assisted with divine grace, so that no sin has any habitual dominion over them. Romans 6:14.

Hence they are free from the gross vices of the age–and are men of good morals. This is their habitual, universal character; and to pretend to be Christians without this prerequisite, is the greatest absurdity!

What then shall we think of the debauched, defrauding, worldly, profligate, profane ‘Christians’, who have overrun the Christian world? Can there be a greater contradiction?

A loyal subject in arms against his sovereign;
an ignorant scholar;
a sober drunkard,
a charitable miser;
an honest thief–
are not greater absurdities, or more direct contradictions!

To depart from iniquity–is essential to Christianity, and without it there can be no such thing as a Christian!

There was nothing that Christ was so remote from–as sin! And therefore, for those that indulge themselves in sin–and yet to wear His name, is just as absurd and ridiculous as for an illiterate dunce to call himself a university professor!

Therefore, if you will not renounce iniquity–then renounce the Christian name! You cannot consistently retain both!

Alexander the Great had a fellow in his army who had his same name–but was a mere coward. “Either be like me,” said Alexander to him, “or lay aside my name!”

You servants of sin, it is in vain for you to wear the name of Christ! It renders you the more ridiculous, and only aggravates your guilt! You may with as much propriety call yourselves ‘princes’ or ‘kings’; as ‘Christians’, while you are so unlike Christ!

You are a scandal to His precious name!

Are We In Reality What We Are In Name?

Samuel Davies, “The Sacred Import of the Christian Name

“The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.” Acts 11:26

We call ourselves Christians–but do we really understand the MEANING and sacred import of that name? Do we really know what it is to BE Christians indeed? Are we in reality–what we are in name? Certainly it is time for us to consider the matter!

What is it to be a Christian?

To be a Christian, in the popular and fashionable sense, is no really difficult or excellent thing. It is to be baptized, to profess the Christian religion; to believe, like our neighbors, that Christ is the Messiah, and to attend upon public worship once a week, in some church or another. In this sense, a man may be a ‘Christian’–and yet be habitually careless about eternal things. He may be a ‘Christian’–and yet fall short of the morality of many of the heathen. He may be a ‘Christian’–and yet a drunkard, a swearer, or a slave to some vice or other. He may be a ‘Christian’–and yet a willful, impenitent offender against God and man.

But is this to be a ‘real Christian’–in the original and proper sense of the word? No! that is something of a very different and superior kind.

To be a Christian indeed–is to be like to Christ, from whom the name is taken!

To be a Christian indeed–is to be a follower and imitator of Christ!

To be a Christian indeed–is to have Christ’s spirit and temper; and to live as He lived in the world!

In short, to be a Christian, is to have our sentiments, our character and our practice, formed upon the sacred model of the gospel.